Four things I learned in my fourth year of blogging

professorMy blog is turning four. I love the age of four. Both of my boys were full of life and questions and cheek and cute and annoying at four. I wonder if my blog will be the same?

My fourth year of blogging has been an interesting one, what with the move from the Fibro to here, and the fact that my novel was scheduled to come out in June, 2013, and then didn’t (I hope to have a new release date for you soon, fingers crossed). I redesigned, with the help of Kelly Exeter, and started my newsletter. The Pink Fibro Bookclub was born – and thrived, with more than 170 members over in our Facebook group – and I created and released my first ebook.

All of which affected the way I blog. I went through a stage where I put up more posts about writing than ever before (the Starting Out, Social Media for Writers and Business of Writing series were all (and continue to be) extremely popular), mostly because I was writing behind the scenes more than ever before. Now, though, I think I’ve found my groove again, and will return to my favourite mix of life, writing and, yes, whimsical posts. But more about that in a minute.

You’re here for the four things I learned in my fourth year of blogging, after all, so it would be churlish not to get down to them.

1. Blogging is hard work

I know. I can’t believe it took me four years to work this out, either, but the truth of the matter is that until this year, it didn’t feel that way to me. Even when I was blogging every day. I know. I think that everyone goes through stages where their blogging mojo leaves the building and I had several of those stages this year. So what did I do? I wrote what I knew (writing). I asked people for help (the Starting Out series is all written by guests, the other two series are Q&A interviews). I wrote about nothing when I had to (this post will give you an insight into just how often I write about nothing). Writers write. Bloggers blog. That’s all there is to it.

2. You can take your own images

If I can do it, so can you. With the help of Hipstagram (how I love it), I’ve taken all my own photos in the past year. Sometimes I have to think a bit (okay, very) laterally about how I’m going to illustrate a post (see the embarrassed cougar) but, all in all, it’s been a lot more fun than I, a not particularly visual person, had ever imagined. And it gives your blog a uniform look that’s very appealing.

3. Get your blog designed by an expert

Never underestimate the power of design. Incorporating the Fibro into my website meant an overhaul for both, and it’s not just the ‘pretty’ that’s important. It looks amazing, true, but it’s also really well organised behind the scenes. I’ve made a few tweaks along the way as I’ve got used to the new layout, and I have a few more tweaks to make this year, but, overall, there’s a home for everything and I like it that way!

4. Don’t forget you

“What the hell is ‘whimsy’, Al?” asked a fabulous, and very straightforward, friend of mine during a discussion we had about ‘branding’ late last year. We were talking about the fact that my blog had gone down a very ‘writing’ track and I was struggling to front up regularly to create posts. She wasn’t keen on ‘whimsy’ in my tag line, thinking that it said nothing.

“Whimsy is the stuff I like,” I snapped, “It’s the little details, the funny questions that I ask myself, the sunset moments, the dancing feet.” It was also, I realised as I snapped, what I was missing from my blog. Those posts are not the ones that are retweeted and favourited and shared on Facebook, but they are the posts that I love writing. The ones that pour out of me in five minutes at the end of the day. The minutiae of life.

I’m pretty sure that a four-year-old blog, with all its life and questions and cheek and cute (and possibly annoying), will be able to cope with more of those.

How long have you been blogging? What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?

For more on blogging see:

12 things I learned in my first year of blogging

12 things I learned in my second year of blogging

Three things I learned in my third year of blogging

Comments 35

  1. I have been blogging since 1998 (we called it “journalling” then). I can’t find the posts from back then, but they were mostly teenage lamentations and sobbing. Then for a while I hosted a multi-contributor journal/zine thing that was quite fun (there’s an archived copy of it here – https://web.archive.org/web/20010411165353/http://www.latexfish.com/index.php?showdate=2001-04-02). In those days it was super cool to have your own domain, and we had a fairly tight circle of (mostly girls) with domains that were mostly host to a lot of emo poetry and misunderstoodness.

    What I have learned in all of those years of blogging is only to share what you’re comfortable sharing. When I was in high school, I had a blog and I wrote some things on there that I probably shouldn’t have, without realising that my friends were reading it. Not smart. Even now, 14 years later, people take liberties with blog content and use it to attack or to expose, so there are things I don’t share anymore. And I share a lot, so the things I’m not sharing are very closely guarded.

    Anyway, happy blog birthday Al!

        1. Post
          Author
  2. I’ve kind of been blogging on and off since I created my first website back in 1996 – before there was a thing called “blogging”, but my posts were very inconsistent and intermittent up until 2011 when I started to consistently blog for the first time.

    My big blogging break was from Mamamia, where I had five articles posted in 2011 – that was kind of my feeder drug – I was kind of hooked on blogging then…

    In 2012 I co-founded KiKi & Tea – that flirtation with more of a “pro-blogger” mindset only lasted about 18 months before I burnt out and left… I got tired of looking for things to be “outraged” by, or trying to have an opinion on current events… I’m just not that interested in writing that kind of stuff – but the regularity of blogging for KiKi & Tea certainly helped improve my skills as a writer.

    Since then I’ve been blogging on my own site and focussing more on personal blogs… most of my blogs in 2013 were kind of “self-therapy” blogs… they helped me a lot, but I think that stage is over now…

    This year I’ve decided to concentrate on telling stories – that’s my focus now. It’s what I’m good at, and I think my readers enjoy seeing the world through my eyes.

    My lesson from all this? – go with your gut – blog about what you like to write about, not what you think will attract audience – blog because you like to write, not because you want to be famous, or make money.

    1. Post
      Author
  3. I concur that the 4 year old is deeeelightful. I love it. And I love that your blog is 4 and is similarly deelightful. I also love your whimsy, your minutiae and the way you describe life … and look forward to seeing more of it this year!

    1. Post
      Author
  4. My lesson from just over five years of blogging is that long term blogging is indeed hard work. For a while the posts just gently, or sometimes, violently pour out of you, but then, when things settle down, you need to work hard to get the words out. Sometimes the words are crap. but you keep writing anyway, because eventually the good stuff will come back. Btw, yours was one of the first blogs I read when I began exploring the blogging community and I’m very happy that you’re still around.

    1. Post
      Author
  5. Congratulations on turning 4! 😉

    I love hearing about what you have learned. I particularly relate to number 4 – remembering you. My favourite ‘me’ posts are the easiest to write, and represent the minutiae of life…but don’t necessarily conform to recommended blogging standards. I guess variety is good. I love following you here, and learning from your experience.

    1. Post
      Author
  6. Happy 4th blog birthday! I have a little one turning 4 this year, so now I know what to expect out of him – I already get lots of cheek, so there’s more to come I see.

    I started blogging at the end of 2011 and things have changed shape a few times. This year is all about doing things for me, that I enjoy. So while I take on board branding and the like, at the end of the day, I’m just doing what I enjoy.

    Thank you for your blog – it has really helped me along the way and when I think “I think I saw that somewhere”, I usually search your blog and there it is waiting for me.

    1. Post
      Author
    1. Post
      Author
  7. Happy bloggy birthday! I’ve been blogging for not much longer than two years, but have learned an incredible amount in that time. The most important thing is not to just write because you feel you have to. No-one will mind all that much if you miss a day (or a week or even a month!) here and there to look after yourself.

    I love your blog. The writing, the whimsy, all of it. Thanks for sharing your lessons. x

    1. Post
      Author
  8. My blog is just about to turn three, and like most three year olds it is unpredictable, demanding, but also very satisfying. But one of the most surprising things I have discovered through blogging are the unexpected friendships and connections I’ve made. Happy birthday!

    1. Post
      Author
  9. I have been reading, and occasionally commenting on, a few blogs for the past year or so (yes, a late starter) and am considering dipping my toes in the blogging pool (slowly, cautiously I’ve been thinking through how and what to focus on). I really enjoy the diversity of your blog – the information, the observations, the questions and the abstract ‘out of nowhere’ thoughts. I hope you maintain the whimsical elements on your blog too – it’s the equivalent of the 4 year olds joy and fascination with the minutiea that is so invigorating!

    1. Post
      Author
    1. Post
      Author
  10. Ooh more whimsy! And more writing posts! Perfect Al. I’ve loved watching your blog grow into the bubbly four year old that it is. 4 is such a good age, especially growth wise. This time next year you’ll be ready for school!

    What have I learned from blogging? The major lesson is do it for you and know that *you* change and evolve over time and it okay, in fact, imperative that your blog does too.

    1. Post
      Author
    1. Post
      Author
  11. Well done on reaching 4 years of blogging Allison. I’ve been blogging on and off since 2008 and I’ve learnt so much but I find that there is always room for improvement. Everyone blogs in their own unique way and I think it is important to stay true to what you feel comfortable with.

    1. Post
      Author
  12. Pingback: <b>4 things</b> I learned in my 4th year of blogging | Allison Tait | Random Things

  13. I missed this post (well, I missed it until now that is!). FOUR. I’m so impressed Al. Whatever your blog was, is and will be, you are still one of my favourite writers (I would say my favourite, but there’s the whole David Sedaris, Bill Bryson, Jane Austen thing going on). x

  14. Pingback: 12 things I learned in my first year of blogging | Allison Tait

  15. I only started my blog late January this year and I don’t really have a plan as such, I just love writing it 🙂 It’s full of silliness, things I’ve noticed, organizing projects around our home, photographs I’ve taken, recipes and hopefully a few smiles 🙂 Thank you for sharing your advice, it can be scary at times pressing the “publish” button. Sending hugs from the UK x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *